The Conservative Party is the largest right-of-center party in the United Kingdom, and is one of that country's three major political parties. Its full official name is the Conservative and Unionist Party, and it is commonly referred to as the Tory Party after its historical predecessor. Its current leader as of 2012 is David Cameron. Aside from moderate fiscal conservatism, there is little actually conservative about the modern party which is, along with all the main political parties in the UK, pro-abortion, pro-same sex marriage and pro-gun control.
British conservatism has its own distinctive tradition, separate both from that of continental European conservatism and from that of American conservatism. Traditional British conservatism is rooted in pragmatism, practicality and concrete experience: this reflects a broader historical preference in British culture for the practical over the theoretical and for the concrete over the abstract. In continental Europe, many conservatives in past times, such as the Frenchman Joseph de Maistre, were strongly ideological and defended causes such as absolute monarchy and Roman Catholicism. By contrast, the heroes of British conservatism (such as Sir Edmund Burke in the eighteenth century, Sir Robert Peel and Benjamin Disraeli in the nineteenth, and Sir Winston Churchill in the twentieth) were moderate, pragmatic and non-ideological. While a more ideological strand of conservatism was in the ascendant during the leadership of Lady Thatcher (1975-1990), the older, pragmatic trend has reasserted itself in more recent years.
The Conservative Party in recent years
The modern British Conservative Party ran the United Kingdom for nearly 20 years, beginning with Margaret Thatcher's victory for the Party in 1979. She came into office facing a British economy that had been crippled by industrial disputes, strikes, high unemployment, and collapsing public services, especially during the so-called 'Winter of Discontent' of 1978-9. Mrs. Thatcher turned that around, broke the iron grip of the trade unions, and restored the British economy to a free enterprise system that has continued to this day. She was succeeded by John Major in 1990, and, to the surprise of the media, Major won the general election in 1992 and extended the Conservative Party's power until 1997.
By 1997 the Labour Party had finally embraced the more conservative direction for the country and abandoned many of its socialist economic policies of the past. Economic difficulties, including a dispute over whether the UK should join the currency of the European Union, hurt the Conservative Party further. This was coupled with a perception that the party had become corrupt, with a number of high-profile members of the party being involved in financial and sexual scandals. The Labour Party won in a landslide in 1997 and held power until 2010.
Major was soon after replaced by William Hague, whose election as party leader was seen as an affirmation that the party wanted to continue with its Thatcherite policies. Hague was the victim of smears and attacks by a media which became Labour-biased to an extent never before seen in British history, and any attempt he made to state his policies or attack the government was routinely ignored (the UK has media regulations similar to the Fairness Doctrine, but does not regulate what the media are supposed to report, only how much time they allocate to each party). The 2001 election went little better than the previous for the Conservatives, for which Hague accepted responsibility and stepped down as leader. Iain Duncan Smith replaced Hague, seemingly getting elected for no reason other than the fact that he was endorsed by Thatcher, and made no real impact as party leader. After passing up chances to attack the government for their role in Operation Iraqi Freedom (which had far less support in the UK than it did in the US), the party decided that enough was enough and Duncan Smith was removed as leader in late 2003. Michael Howard was seen by many as the only possible man to take the Conservatives forward, and was elected as the new party leader without opposition. A far more adept period of leadership saw a recovery at the 2005 election, halving Labour's majority in the House of Commons. A few weeks later, Howard announced that while the recovery of the Conservative Party had begun, he had done all he could as party leader, and so would step down once a successor had been elected.
The modern Party
Since the early 2000s, the Conservative Party leaders have softened its conservative stance on social and fiscal issues, and this has increased its popularity with the voters. Particularly since David Cameron - a self-declared "liberal conservative" (which in British English means "moderate conservative") - became leader of the Conservative Party, their support in the country has risen dramatically, however this is also due to the media-perpetuated anti-war feeling within the United Kingdom following Tony Blair's era, coupled with the unpopularity of Gordon Brown's government and recent polls.
Cameron can be seen as a more moderate conservative than many previous leaders. His party policies have gravitated towards a more "green" outlook as the concern about global warming has grown within the UK. He has also praised Britain's socialized healthcare system, the NHS; but has also considered privatisation of sections of the service in an attempt to decrease the deficit at which it currently operates. The party has also continued to support some traditional elements of Conservative policy, such as support for the family.
Since forming the Coalition Government in 2010, Cameron's popularity has been rapidly declining, as indicated by various opinion polls conducted by the media. Current polls suggest the conservatives would be beaten with the Labour party while the Liberal Democrats have slumped in popularity.
David Cameron has established his own website. 
- British politics
- British conservatives
- David Cameron
- Margaret Thatcher
- Conservative Party of New York State (CPNYS)
- American Conservative Party (ACP)